Could Arizona be the next Mecca for film production companies?
Supporters of a bill that aims to extend tax credits for film producers believe the state has that potential. They say it has the scenery, the proximity to California and the ability to develop a talent pool that would be sufficient for big-time productions.
Already, two companies are looking to build multi-million dollar studios in Arizona.
But if S1409 fails to pass, both studios will never get off the ground, supporters and industry representatives say. The existing tax credit program is set to expire in December.
“They won’t build them,” said Glendale Republican Sen. John Nelson, the bill’s sponsor.
The $100 million Avondale Live would accommodate multiple film and television productions simultaneously, according to a description on the company’s Web site. The project also would have an entertainment district.
Gateway Studios, a $70-million motion picture production complex in Mesa, would be on 55 acres. It would include four soundstages, production and post-production facilities, offices and storage buildings.
Kevin DeMenna, lobbyist for Indianapolis-based Bruce A. Bodner Company, which would build Avondale Live, is aiming for big-time productions in the scale of the Spiderman movies.
But the company won’t start building without a guarantee that the conditions exist to lure film, TV and even gaming producers to shoot, edit and score their movies in Arizona.
“Supposed we were going to build a banquet hall – a $50 million banquet hall – would we do that if we didn’t have banquets lined up from here to well past the return on our investment?” DeMenna said.
Gateway Studios officials could not be reached for comment.